Tag Archives: pesto

Cheese: Fail. Pasta: Fail. Dishes: Broken. Thank goodness for Adriana’s Pesto

18 Feb

Adriana and I love cooking together. Our kids are very close in age and have known each other since the very beginning, so we get together for sleepovers that involve kid activities by day and then massive food in the evening. Then the kids go to bed and we stay up talking all night.

Usually I walk away with excellent bloggable dishes that I can post for days. So I went into this one thinking I had it made.



Then, whether it was the wobbliness of an afternoon spent trudging the Arctic tundra for a sledding excursion, or the fact that the moon was 98.4 percent full (we checked), or that we should have waited until after we’d gotten a lot more things out of the way before having that first glass of wine, or just over-the-top plans that were far too ambitious…everything seemed to go wrong.



We tried to make cheese from a cool kids’ kit that Adriana got (the kids were not at  all interested, funnily enough). I ate the 1/4 tablet of rennet thinking it was crumbs from my crackers, but even with a new 1/4 tablet, the milk just wouldn’t curdle. We dumped it.



We followed the instructions to make home-made pasta (another fun-for-the-kids activity that they completely ignored) — we really did — but ended up with a solid hard ball of dough that resisted all attacks with the rolling pin. And I had forgotten to bring my pasta cutting machine anyhow (which annoys the bejeezus out of me because it was a wedding gift for a marriage so disastrous that we were divorced before it ever got used and it still hasn’t been used because well, shit happens and pasta, apparently, doesn’t).

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Back-to-School Freezer Fillers 1: Basil Pesto

29 Aug

My darling son starts kindergarten this week. Yikes!

And I go back to the classroom to teach next week. Double Yikes!

Drying blanched basil

I look upon school food with deep suspicion; I haven’t spent the last five years nurturing a good and healthy eater only to surrender him to the deep fryer as well as the public education system. And for myself, I refuse to waste $10 a day or more eating lunch out when I can eat better for less in the comfort of my office, listening to Pandora and checking my emails. Continue reading

“Mom. Blog This. Right Now.” (Leandro Makes His First Pesto and Wants You To Know How Great It Was)

11 Aug

It is high season for basil, which means high season for pesto. I forgot to pick up basil from the farm this week, but one of the neighbors’ friends, in gratitude for Sangría Night, sent some over from the overabundance in her own garden.

From Lindsay’s Garden

Between that and my little plants scattered around the yard, I had enough for a quickie pesto for Leandro’s couscous.

From our garden – not the greatest shot, but the other ones showed all the perforations from unknown creatures feasting merrily on my herbs!

And then, BONUS! I had Leandro making his own dinner! He loves the smell of basil, but what he truly couldn’t resist was a go with the pestle. Nothing like offering a five-year-old a club and saying “Have at it, kid. Call me when you’ve beaten this stuff to a pulp.”

The Little Chef at work

He was tremendously excited at every turn, making me smell all the different aromas as we added ingredients to the mortar. We mixed it into couscous for lunch with the grands and wasn’t he so proud to have made The Best Pesto Ever? We were proud too and it really was delicious. I also used some of it to spread on roasted eggplant, peppers and zucchini. What a terrific lunch! And a wonderful kitchen experience!

Note the unorthodox use of walnuts (Poor Marcella Hazan; I use her The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking all the time, but never quite stick to the classical line). I can’t afford to keep pine nuts around so walnuts were a worthy and handy substitute. (Mind you, with the price of walnuts rising — around $18 now for a 3-lb bag at Costco these days, up from $15 not too many months ago — who knows how long I’ll be able to afford those!). Also, this recipe can certainly be increased; I only had a cup of basil.


With Couscous

Hand-Ground Pesto (Mortar and Pestle needed)

1 Cup basil leaves, tightly packed (washed in cold water and patted dry)

1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled

2 Tbs walnuts

 Coarse sea salt (pinch by pinch, to taste)

¼ Cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano (additional Tbs romano cheese optional)

¼ Cup extra virgin olive oil

In a mortar and pestle (marble mortar with wooden pestle is what Marcella Hazan recommends; I use all marble) grind basil leaves, garlic, walnuts, and sea salt into a paste. Add cheese and use pestle to mix well. Add the oil in a thin stream, mixing well with a wooden spoon.

If using pasta, this amount will suffice for about a pound, Reserve some of the pasta cooking water to thin the pesto as you turn it into the pasta. If using couscous, start with two Cups dry (Israeli-style couscous – the big kind – preferred)

On stacked grilled veggies

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